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  • Aug 16th 2011 at 12:31PM
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The name Shelby is synonymous with high performance. The name Omni is more often recalled as a small hatchback offered by Dodge in the 1980s, and while it was practical and efficient, nobody ever thought of the little runabout as anything other than basic transportation. A funny thing happened when Chrysler got the bright idea to combine Shelby and Omni into one package, though: an iconic hot hatch was born. And darn if they didn't come up with one of the quickest production cars in America...

On second thought, "iconic" may be too lofty a word for the Dodge Omni GLH and, a few modifications later, its slightly quicker GLHS sibling. "Memorable," "noteworthy" and, above all else, "fun," on the other hand, apply perfectly. And speaking of memorable, have a look at the glorious commercial after the break, where the advertising geniuses combined an all-black Shelby Omni with a voiceover that sounds a heck of a lot like Billy Dee Williams.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, GLH stands for Goes Like Hell. GLHS stands for Goes Like Hell Some More, or so the legend goes.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was a Dodge dealer at this time, and had both a 1985 GLH Turbo, and the following year, a Shelby GLH-S. these were not demos, but cars I had purchased for myself. I think some of the younger posters here need to know that a Cadillac V-8 at this time put out 120 horsepower. the GLH Turbo in stock form was 146 horsepower (an easy 180 with a chip change), and the Shelby was 175 horsepower (220 with a chip change). and all this was in a 2400 pound car. blinding fast did not even describe this car. it was impossible to ever drive this car without a smile on your face. the '85 had a speedometer that only went to 85 MPH, but the needle would continue around again. they corrected this on the '86 GLH-S, and put a decal underneath, so you could see your speed. either one would top 140MPH with ease. on hard acceleration, you just had to remember about the torque steer. once you were rolling, it was fine. I'm looking at the window stickers for both right now. the '85 (with air conditioning) listed for $10,230, and the '86 GLH-S listed for a little over $14,000. I've owned plenty of nice performance cars I bought new (1988 and 1990 Corvette, 4 Mustang 5.0s, 1996 Viper), but not a single one would hold a candle to these little screamers for the fun to drive for the money ratio. my most vivid memory of the red '85 was when I was moving. for those of you from southern California, I was moving from La Crescenta to the Santa Clarita Valley, near Magic Mountain. I had eight vehicles to move, so I called a bunch of friends to help. my one friend driving the GLH turbo was last in line as we headed west on the deserted, five lane 210 freeway. he pulled into the lane to the left of our convoy, and slowly passed each vehicle, waving as he went by. he then hit the gas hard, and a tiny puff of smoke came out. you could see the front of the car lift up, and see him holding onto the steering wheel for dear life. I looked at my watch, and he was gone from sight in a minute and thirty seconds. from our location, you could see for ten miles. when we got to the new house, I asked him how he liked it. all I can relate his facial expressions to now is the guy in the "puddingface" commercials you see on TV now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My Omni's speedo would not go around. when it got to 85 the needle would bounce as if hitting some kind of stop or peg.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My first new car was a 1984 1/2 Omni GLH. i traded up from my 1978 Horizon. It was a great car, a sleeper, and I had fun embarrassing more expensive cars. I raced a guy in approximately a '77-'78 Corvette for three stop lights in a row, and blew his doors off. At the next light, he wouldn't even look over at me and turned off! My only regret was not waiting until the turbo model came out for the 1985 model year.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I worked at a Jeep dealership in Denver from '97-'99 and I had a boss who owned two GLHS's. He kept them in pristine condition. I couldn't believe how fast those little cars could accelerate - it was mind boggling. I would not hesitate at all if I found an Omni GLHS in the same sort of shape he kept his in (and was in a financial position to do so).
      • 4 Years Ago
      The OMNI was based on a French Chrysler product, the Talbot Horizon. The first models had VW engines. I drove few GLHs and Shelbys back in the day. Very much fun when you got used to the torque steer, they truly did go like hell.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I did too starting with the first Shelby Chargers back in 1983 when they were normally aspirated at 110hp with the chrome valve covers and you could only get blue with a silver stripe or silver with a blue stripe. Then I had a black with a silver stripe when the turbo models came out in 1985. Very fun cars. The turbo Colt was another fun point and shoot car from that era.
        • 6 Months Ago

        I totally agree.  The clutch pickup was a little quick, but once you could handle the ts and clutch, that car could run.  I miss mine.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Having Billy Dee Williams talking sells it, cause I am thinking of Empire Strikes Back now.
      Mike Pulsifer
      • 4 Years Ago
      "An American Revolution"....So that's where Chevy got it....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Back in the day my family had an Omni as a loaner when we had taken the car in for service. I was pretty inpressed at how large the interior was for a small car. I was also pretty impressed at how well it moved around. i can only imagine how the GLH ran.
      • 4 Years Ago
      God i miss the 80's!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dear Turn 10 why isn't this car in Forza
      • 4 Years Ago
      i have one of these.. one of my favorite cars ever
      • 4 Years Ago
      A few mods for rallying and you could turn this thing into a Escort MkII fighter.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Having driven around an 84 Dodge Omni, I can say this: If you like carborators, leaky gas tanks, weak clutches, broken door handles, rusted floorboards, and squeeky suspension...then hellz ya! The Omni/Horizon dynamic duo are for you! My only regret was not throwing a brick on the pedel and driving it off a cliff... :)
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